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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Wager
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1429  Tuesday, 30 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Robert Projansky <
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	Date: 	Monday, 29 Aug 2005 10:35:45 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1416 Wager

[2] 	From: 	Al Magary <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 02:58:20 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1416 Wager

[3] 	From: 	Bill Arnold <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 06:24:43 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1416 Wager


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Robert Projansky <
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Date: 		Monday, 29 Aug 2005 10:35:45 -0700
Subject: 16.1416 Wager
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1416 Wager

I find the 1Richard II/Thomas of Woodstock attribution question hugely 
interesting, but I think the whole wager thing unfortunate, and I for 
one am glad it's off. Judges and juries do not necessarily determine the 
truth; they merely decide who wins. This question is not the kind that 
can be decided like a fight (even though it has some of the appearance 
thereof), and a wager is merely a distraction from the question, not a 
help to finding the answer. I think Michael Egan just has to take his 
chances and his lumps before his efforts will find the recognition he 
seeks, which might be never, even if his claim is bang on and good as gold.

To the substance of the issue: I am no scholar and didn't even know the 
play existed before I read about it here, but pretty much any actor who 
has ever performed in Richard II will tell you that Richard's stopping 
the trial by combat and banishing Mowbray and Bolingbroke puzzles not 
only the audience but the cast as well. Much of this wonderful play is 
unintelligible without off-stage exposition. The king's fear of the 
outcome of the combat needs to be exposed and explained and WS doesn't 
do it at all. Only after the long first scene, when Woodstock's widow is 
complaining to Gaunt do we hear that the king caused Woodstock's death. 
We don't know if it's true or not, Gaunt won't even say it was wrongful, 
and I don't think anybody ever says the murder is the root of the 
banishments. In short, I find it unlikely that Shakespeare's audience 
could be expected to come to the theater knowing that Richard had had 
Gloucester murdered and why unless they had been told that in a previous 
play -- and not by some other playwright, either. The play in question 
very thoroughly supplies the exposition, just as it would if it were the 
first part of WS's R II.

Yours,
Bob Projansky

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Al Magary <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 02:58:20 -0700
Subject: 16.1416 Wager
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1416 Wager

Marcus Dahl wrote:

 >Consider the title page:
 >THE FIRST PART OF THE REIGN OF KING RICHARD \
 >THE SECOND OR THOMAS OF WOODSTOCK
 >The play's second title is 'Thomas of Woodstock'. I feel that
 >the abbreviation 1 Richard II is justified from this as 1HVI is an
 >appropriate abbreviation for The First Part of Henry VI.

May I suggest that the printed title of an anonymous work has no 
absolute authority over other evidence and furthermore that in serious 
discussion, "1 Richard II" is prejudicial.

The presumption of Shakespeareness (Shakespeareinity?) in the Woodstock 
play begins with Mr. Anonymous' title and continues with the insistence 
of his would be unmaskers in the 21st century. The idea that 
Shakespeare's long sequence of history plays might be made longer is a 
terrible attraction. The prospect of identifying a new Shakespeare text 
is as much a fatal lure as the possibility of proving another was 
author, or finding a new portrait or document.

But let us begin at the very beginning, with the title. Anyone who has 
studied the history of publishing finds out quickly that the author of 
the text cannot be regarded as the sole author of the title. Editors and 
publishers often enhance the appeal of a book with a new title (I used 
to do this when I was a publisher), and in the 16C printers and 
typesetters had a hand in this too. Here is Tom Stoppard playing with 
the authority of titles: Marlowe: "I have a new one nearly done, and 
better. 'The Massacre at Paris.'" Will: "Good title." Marlowe: "And 
yours?" Will: "'Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter.'"

The commercial appeal of title wording can be seen in the titles of the 
separate quartos of the eight chronicle plays from R2 to R3 in 
comparison to the simplified titles given to them by Heminge and Condell 
as parts of the First Folio, 1623. Including the names of famous 
characters such as Hotspur, Falstaff, and Ancient Pistol was obviously a 
selling point.

(For the record, the titles below are from the BL's facsimile quartos at 
http://prodigi.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/search.asp and from the 
Penn's facsimile First Folio, 
http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/printedbooksNew/index.cfm?textID=firstfolio&PagePosition=1; 
one quarto title is from a UVic transcript. I omit line breaks and close 
up hyphenated words.)

--R2 (Q1, 1600; BL): THE Tragedie of King Richard the second. As it hath 
beene publickely acted by the right Honourable the Lorde Chamberlaine 
his Seruants. [Cf F1: The life and death of King Richard the Second.]

--1H4 (Q1, 1598; BL): THE HISTORY OF HENRIE THE FOVRTH, With the battell 
of Shrewsburie, betweene the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie 
Hotspur of the North, With the humorous conceits of Sir Iohn Falstalffe. 
[Cf F1: The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of 
HENRY Sirnamed HOT-SPVRRE.]

--2H4 (Q1, 1600; BL copy b): The Second part of Henrie the fourth, 
continuing to his death, and coronation of Henrie the fift. With the 
humours of sir Iohn Falstaffe, and swaggering Pistoll. As it hath been 
sundrie times publikely acted by the right honourable, the Lord 
Chamberlaine his servants. Written by VVilliam Shakespeare [Cf F1: The 
Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the 
Coronation of King Henry the Fift.]

--H5 (Q1, 1600; BL): THE CRONICLE History of Henry the fift, With his 
battell fought at Agin Court in France. Togither with Auntient Pistoll. 
As it hath bene sundry times playd by the Right honorable the Lord 
Chamberlaine his Servants. [Cf F1: The Life of Henry the Fift.]

--2H6 (Q, 1594): THE First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous 
Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, with the death of the good Duke Humphrey: 
And the banishment and death of the Duke of Suffolke, and the Tragicall 
end of the proud Cardinall of VVinchester, vvith the notable Rebellion 
of Iacke Cade: And the Duke of Yorkes first claime unto the Crowne. [Cf 
F1: The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke 
HVMFREY.]

--3H6 (Q1, 1595; UVic): The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and 
the death of good King Henrie the Sixt, with the whole contention 
betweene the two Houses Lancaster and Yorke, as it was sundrie times 
acted by the Right Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke his seruants. [Cf 
F1: The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of YORKE.]

--2&3H6 (Q3, 1619; BL) The Whole Contention betweene the two Famous 
Houses, Lancaster and Yorke. With the Tragicall ends of the good Duke 
Humfrey, Richard Duke of Yorke, and King Henrie the sixt. Diuided into 
two Parts: And newly corrected and enlarged. Written by William 
Shakespeare, Gent.

--R3 (Q1 1597; BL): THE TRAGEDY OF King Richard the third. Containing, 
His treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence: the pittiefull 
murther of his iunocent nephewes: his tyrannicall vsurpation: with the 
whole course of his detested life, and most deserved death. As it hath 
beene lately Acted by the Right honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his 
seruants. [Cf F1: The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of 
Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field.]

In short, titles are not just fungible but slippery. Ask any library 
cataloguer.

Michael Egan wrote:

 >The play's first and second editors (Halliwell and Keller) called it 
Richard II,
 >Part One and so did E.K. Chambers in The Elizabethan Stage. In the 1920s
 >a cabal of critics led by F.S. Boas began insisting that it should be 
retitled
 >Woodstock so as 'to avoid confusion with Shake

 

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